Several years ago started a struggle of a little boy from Mostar to equality. Actually, his battle was nothing else but plain wishes to go to school with his peers, without being treated differently and looked upon for his intellectual disability.
Since little boy E.B. start education, his parents insisted to provide him with best possible education opportunities, with respect to his special need, but unfortunately for little E.B., continuation of his education was not made possible in lines with provision of Framework Law on primary and secondary education in BiH, Law on primary and secondary education in NHK and Bylaw on education of children with special educational needs in primary and secondary schools of HNK.
Little E.B. is just one of many kids that are like him, that require assistance during theirs process of inclusive education.
During the time E.B. was provided with assistance in process of inclusive education, significant improvement of his educational achievement were made, but also his confidence grew, he was much more stable, as did he feel better health wise.
Despite experts conclusion that E.B. is not for “special school” because his obvious achievements shown during the time he was assisted, pressure to E.B. parents to categorize their child for the purpose of E.B. to get enrolled to special school continued for years. Another excuse was that ministry and school would be required to pay for the support in education provided to E.B. by an assistant, which they could not afford.
Unfortunately, in order to win this battle it took a lot of time, many efforts, many legal procedures and legal submission. At the end of legal battle a discrimination lawsuit was prepared and procedure was launched.
Association „Vaša prava BiH“did, as in many other legal cases before this one, pioneering job. As last resort, we aimed to prove discrimination in legal procedure before court. Two years ago, without much of a support, in times when many did not have faith and believed in this case to be a flagrant example of discrimination, we initiated procedure before Municipal Court in Mostar.
This was a first ever lawsuit submitted in lines of new Law on prohibition of discrimination in BiH. First instance court’s decision adopted our lawsuit’s claim and established that Ministry of education, science, culture and sport of HNK has discriminated little E.B. by violating his right to equal treatment in education, failing to undertake inclusive education measures, as set by the law, in educational process for E.B. who is person with special needs. Court also ordered responsible ministry to take such action, necessary and prescribed by law, in order to prevent further violation of little E.B.’s right
To equal treatment in education, as well as such measures to enable E.B. continued education in accordance to special curricula and program accustomed to his individual needs, and with support of special expert’s team and personal assistant present during the lessons, for as long as special needs of E.B. require so.
After appealing procedure, Cantonal Court in Mostar rejected all ministries claims and confirmed the first instance court’s decision. This now makes this decision to be a precedent in our judicial practice and first such in cases of discrimination in BiH.
All regards go to little E.B.’s parents, who have persisted in their efforts to challenge all prejudices, only to prove that child’s best friends are his parents. Unfortunately, ahead of us is still a long way to walk before we as a society overcome some old apprehension and treat with difference the “other”. The others or different are not less worth, and deserve to enjoy at least equal rights and freedom.